Skip to main content

Full text of "The Gay Genius"

See other formats

GODS, DEVILS, AND MEN                       67

by an old master, Wu Taotse, which he had acquired at Fengshiang.
The temple was erected at the cost of one thousand dollars, of which
the Su brothers contributed fifty, the rest being provided by the monks.
' The second important thing Su Tungpo did after the mourning was
over was to remarry. The bride was his wife's first cousin, daughter of
Wang Chieh. Ten years earlier, in the period of his mother's mourning,
Su Tungpo had returned home and had often visited his wife's home
at Chingshen. Junchi, then a girl of ten or eleven, frequently saw him
in her house. On their outings and picnics she was excited about this
young man who had gained the highest honours in the imperial
examinations. Now she was a girl of twenty, and she was Su Tungpo's
choice, since his parents were dead. The match was probably instigated
by her brother, who had become devoted to the poet. Being eleven
years her husband's junior, and adoring him with complete surrender,
she seems to have let her husband have everything pretty much his way.
She was unable to make him save money to the end of his days. Less
capable than the first wife, she was also of a gentler disposition, yielding
and always content. She was to be the poet's companion during the
most active period of his life, bringing up her cousin's son and her gwn
sons, and sharing with him all the ups and downs of fortune that came
in alternate succession in his life. Against the man's curious adventures
of the mind and spirit, it was enough that a woman remained sane and
normal and stood as a constant reminder of beauty, health, and good-
mess. With his mind darting about in all directions, absorbed in new
interests and occupied with a world of ideas, with his leaps of high
gaiety and deep anguish, many times did he wonder at the serenity of
woman that enabled human life to be carried on,

In December, 1068, the Su brothers with their families returned to
the capital by land, after entrusting the care of their parents' cemetery
to their cousin Tse-an and a good neighbour, one Yang. Neither of the
brothers ever visited their home again, for soon after their arrival at
the capital they were swept into the centre of a political storm. Their
later official duties took them to almost every province of China except
their own.